“Like Sept. 11, the euro has become a scapegoat for many economic problems which were bubbling under the surface long before the introduction of the new currency,” the Mintel marketing research company said in its latest lifestyles study. “However, in the vast majority of cases this has simply not been the case. In fact, the introduction of the euro has bought about a new, more cosmopolitan Ireland.
“Among many other factors, the transition of the Republic into the eurozone, has encouraged better price transparency and a high transfer of consumers between Ireland and the rest of the eurozone.”
A survey of 1,200 consumers in the Republic showed almost 75 percent found the transition to the euro had been easy and, as a result, 28 percent adults now say they feel more European than Irish.
The concept of being “European” is particularly predominant among those aged 15-24 years old (35 percent) and those in education (37 percent).
Over three quarters feel that Britain should have joined the euro at the same time.
The euro was blamed by 87 percent for higher prices, but Mintel says an analysis of the consumer price index shows only a two-point change between mid-February 2001 and mid-February 2002.
On the plus side, 86 percent of consumers polled find vacationing and buying things in other eurozone countries easier and almost half claim they compare prices whenever possible in other euro countries.
North of the border, a survey of 1,019 consumers found that if put to a referendum tomorrow, Northern Ireland would vote against the euro by 45 percent to 42 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
“Predictably, voting intentions divide along religious lines, with 31 percent of Protestants planning to vote yes, compared to 61 percent of Catholics, while 55 percent of Protestants said they would vote no, compared with 27 percent of Catholics.
“Yes voters tend to be younger, better off and living outside Belfast, while no voters are typically older, lower to middle income and live in the city,” Mintel said.
Mintel found two-thirds in Northern Ireland would support dual currency status. This grows the closer one gets to the border with the Republic, where, Mintel says, in some towns, such as Newry and Derry, dual currency is already a reality.
One in three are concerned about Northern Ireland being disadvantaged by not having the euro, while 57 percent believe that sterling is important to the identity of the North.
As was found south of the border, 86 percent believe retailers would use a currency change as an opportunity to hike prices.